When was the last time you saw a Two Tonne Welsh woman advertising outdoor furniture?
In 1947 Tessie O’Shea, a Welsh entertainer and actress was at the height of her fame and the spokeswoman for Sebel Stak-A-Bye chairs. These pressed metal chairs with sweeping tubular legs were Sebel’s first chair. Having freshly disposed of their war time ration cards, the British were ready to come out of their bunkers and into their gardens. Their “cheerful colour contrasts” and “almost indestructible plastic finish” made them an instant success.
To this day Sebel still operates from its original site at Bankstown, NSW, Australia. Established in 1947 by Harry Sebel who emigrated to Australia from post WWII Britain, he started Sebel with his father David, a metalworker Russian emigree. The production of these chairs ceased in 1958, however with the recent revival of vintage mid-century furniture, they’ve made a comeback. You can’t pass a cafe strip from Newtown to Newington that doesn’t have a Stak-A-Bye out front!
These are mine. They stack nicely and serve well as extra outdoor chairs. The blue ones are a bit flaky and as am very pregnant it will be a while before they see a fresh lick of paint. However, with a cushion or two they do just lovely.
Pre-pregnancy I did manage to refurbish a set of Sebel Hobnob Junior chairs from the early 70’s. I bought these second hand. They were a sickly looking crayon pocked, toddler sticky set of peach chairs. After a thorough soap scrub and hose down I set to transforming these chairs to accompany the kids outdoor table. Getting the chairs to a shiny new Plastic Fantastic look was no small feat.
HOW TO REFURBISH OLD WORN CHILDREN’S PLASTIC CHAIRS
Step 1: With paint brush coat down every square inch of plastic chairs with Grip Lock Primer. I used the White Knight brand.
Step 2: Once dry I tried a variety of spray paints however found that Killrust in a can works best. Spray even strokes starting at the top and work your way across left to right on your way down. For more intense colour and better coverage of primer, spray paint evenly one coat at a time. Wear a face mask as this stuff really stinks and can render one devoid of smell for a full day. Despite all this it was worth the effort as gone was putrid peach and in came a combination of bright yellow seats with silver legs, silver seats with canary yellow legs, blue and deep Indian red plastic chairs.
This is what they look like around the kids outdoor table.